REAL IDiotic Act

My wife and I took a pleasure trip this weekend to El Lay (or, as Ray Milland famously called it in Panic in Year Zero! , “Loss Ang-lees”).

I was doing a benefit for a charity that, in my opinion, should not have to exist, called the Busted Foundation . They provide financial support to women who are crippled by medical expenses and cannot pay their ongoing living expenses (food, rent) because of a breast cancer diagnosis. Their signature event, “Bowling for Boobies”, was held Sunday night.

Mrs. Monotreme used to live in El Lay so we made a weekend of it and saw her old homestead in Venice and visited the Planetarium in Griffith Park, among other touristy things.

There was some difficulty with the rental car, since my drivers license had expired. I remembered why I had not renewed it — there was a fairly onerous and complicated documentation requirement for drivers’ license renewal this year.

I had blamed it on our Tea Party-dominated State Legislature, but some online research changed my mind. It wasn’t a state law that put these new, onerous requirements in place. It was because of the Federal REAL ID Act that I was having to dig up evidence of my
Social Security number (“not to be used for identification”, it says on
the card)
. My state had just changed their rules in an attempt to comply with the Act.

So, having returned home today, I gathered together my passport and a W-2 with my name and social security number on it. I decided not to make the additional trip to the safe deposit box where my original social security card (“not for identification”) is kept. I spent probably an additional 15 minutes gathering this required information and I estimate an additional 15 minutes at the DMV dealing with this paperwork (for example, the clerk had to make a photocopy of my documentation).

With 200 million drivers in the United States, that amounts to an estimated 100 million person-hours (let’s say $2 billion in lost time and wages), and for what purpose? Does any of us really think that the borders are safer, or that more of us are secure, because of this Act?

Such a monstrosity must be the product of an over-reaching Socialist state. It’s probably typical of the Democrats to pass such a thing.

I suppose it should come as no surprise that it was passed by a Republican House and Senate and signed into law by a Republican President. I don’t think the relevant facts are in dispute; according to Wikipedia:


The original Real ID Act, H. R. 418, was approved by the House on February 10, 2005 by a vote of 261-161. At the insistence of the Real IDAct sponsor and then House Judiciary Committee Chair F. James Sensenbrenner (Republican, Wisconsin), the Real ID Act was subsequently attached by the House Republican leadership as a rider to H.R. 1268, a bill dealing with emergency appropriations for the Iraq War and with the Tsunami relief funding. H.R. 1268 was widely regarded as a “must-pass” legislation. The original version of H.R. 1268 was passed by the Senate on April 21, 2005 and did not include the Real ID Act. However, the Real ID Act was inserted in the conference report on H.R. 1268 that was then passed by the House on May 5, 2005 by a 368-58 vote and was unanimously passed by the Senate on May 10, 2005. The Senate never discussed or voted on the Real ID Act specifically and no Senate committee hearings were conducted on the Real ID Act prior to its passage. Critics charged that this procedure was undemocratic and that the bill’s proponents avoided a substantive debate on a far-reaching piece of legislation by attaching it to a “must-pass” bill.

A May 3, 2005 statement by the American Immigration Lawyers Association said: “Because Congress held no hearings or meaningful debate on the legislation and amended it to a must-pass spending bill,the REAL ID Act did not receive the scrutiny necessary for most measures, and most certainly not the level required for a measure of this importance and impact. Consistent with the lack of debate and discussion, conference negotiations also were held behind closed doors,with Democrats prevented from participating.”

Is this a vision of our future if the Republicans (or, some version of the Tea Party) take control?



About Monotreme

Monotreme is an unabashedly liberal dog lover, writer, and former scientist who now teaches at a University in an almost-square state out West somewhere. |
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24 Responses to REAL IDiotic Act

  1. Bart DePalma says:

    :::yawn:::The Real ID Act simply requires basic proof that you are whom your driver’s license says you are. If you are going to have an official photo ID in the first instance, I do not see the problem. It is the requirement that you carry a government ID which is intrusive.

  2. Monotreme says:

    You’re missing my point, Bart.How does this Act improve the probability that the ID in question is “real”?

  3. Mainer says:

    Bart you have likened yourself to being a Libertarian at times right? It was you right? Please look up Libertarian in your Funk and Wagnels I think you may be surprised at what you find.

  4. Todd Dugdale says:

    Good thing that you had a passport. If you didn’t, you would have needed a birth certificate and an SS card. This proves you are who say you are because nobody could ever have someone else’s birth certificate, and there is no problem with false SS cards in this country.I’m really glad that Real ID has completely stopped identity theft, too. It’s so foolproof, and only inconveniences criminals.Even better, Real ID requires an RFID chip in that passport of yours. It’s a good thing that nobody could ever, ever scan that chip besides the authorities. Sure, it’s not encrypted, but people who try to impersonate others wouldn’t actually use technology – would they?BDP wrote:”The Real ID Act simply requires basic proof that you are whom your driver’s license says you are.“Pardon me while I bang my head against the keyboard until the words “basic proof” have acquired a new meaning.

  5. Realist says:

    Fortunately, there is an easy solution to the RFID chip in the passport. A few blows with a hammer to the chip will prevent it from being read by people other than the authorities.And, since the chip is not actually required by any ICE regulations, the passport will still work fine for its primary purpose.Todd, it seems as if you and I may run in similar circles. B)

  6. Todd Dugdale says:

    I favour the use of a microwave oven, personally.

  7. Mainer says:

    Hey you had your Pass port a true blue American document that could never be tampered with and……what do you mean they are out sourced to sleezy third world contractors? Sheeesh.

  8. shiloh says:

    Always found it amusing from the period of 1940 to 1990 when you think of Big Brother er 1984 etc. and socialistic societies like the Soviet Union and China having total control over its citizens …knowing the U.S. always has/had more private information re: its citizens than any other country in the world.>And of course now w/the internet, absolutely nothing is private lol.Let’s all drink a toast! to cheney/bush’s Dept. of Homeland Security, eh.Somebody’s Watching Me ~ 1984 :)be afraid Bart, be very afraid …carry on

  9. Realist says:

    OBTW, while we’re on the subject, I seem to recall that the primary impetus for the REAL ID was to have a tool to use against terrorists.Let us recall that these are the same people who have successfully demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of loopholes in our infrastructure. So, what are you required to provide in order to get a driver’s license, under REAL ID?1) Something that proves your address. The states get to decide what is good enough. But, whatever they choose, it will inevitably be something extraordinarily easy to forge. After all, what do you have that proves your residence and is also tamper-resistent?2) Proof of SSN. Even if the cards themselves weren’t easy to forge, you’re not even required in most states to bring the actual card. You can, instead, bring many other, more easily forged, documents that show a name and SSN.Bottom line, it’s extremely easy to get a fake driver’s license.By the way, I agree with Monotreme’s point that this is in violation of the purpose of SSN. It is not to be a unique identifier for an individual. I often say that the SSN is the worst of both worlds, in that it makes a terrible unique identifier (not enough digits to serve this purpose), and yet is being pressed into service as a unique identifier for all Americans. We need to stop the charade and have a real national ID.

  10. Bart DePalma says:

    Mainer:I made the very libertarian observation that the requirement to carry a government photo identification is the real intrusion. If you accept that intrusion as necessary, then I see no problem requiring folks to prove they are who they say they are. Otherwise the ID is both an intrusion and a charade.

  11. filistro says:

    Bart is in no way a libertarian. He is a classic Authoritarian. Bart LIKES the idea of folks being told what they have to do… provided he is on the side that gets to do the telling 🙂

  12. Realist says:

    OK, Todd, now I’m really sure we run in similar circles. I get a nagging suspicion I know you.

  13. shiloh says:

    Paging the moderation wastebin top dog, big cheese, head honcho, Grand Poobah …

  14. Realist says:

    Bart,I see no problem requiring folks to prove they are who they say they areAs you may have gathered from my above comments, REAL ID does no such thing. It extends the charade that folks are required to prove they are who they say they are, but that’s all it does.Of course, you’re free to explain to me (and others, I suppose) in what way I am wrong about how easy it is to get a FAKE REAL ID. I’d love to hear it.Or you can admit that REAL ID is REAL LAME. I’m happy to agree that the idea behind having an ID that is truly trustable is a fine one. It’s just that we don’t have it.

  15. filistro says:

    I haven’t been “moderated” in ages (touch wood..) I mustn’t be saying anything important. All the Best People seem to get moderated.Hey Bart… small challenge waiting for you in the thread just below… 😉

  16. shrinkers says:

    Todd, it’s great to have you back!I still haven’t figured out what the purpose of the FAKE ID law is. I had thought the intent was to have a national database of all Americans. But it’s too easy to fake. Maybe the intent was to show off how incompetent Republicans are. Or maybe it’s just some dickheads trying to see how many hoops they can get us to jump through.Anyway, it is both senseless and useless.As for me — I don’t even have a passport. Never felt the need, since I don’t travel out of the country.And Bart is about the most authoritarian and anti-democratic (with the small “d”) person I know.

  17. Todd Dugdale says:

    Maybe you’ve seen my picture on the wall in the Post Office. I get that a lot.

  18. Realist says:

    @Todd,Maybe you’ve seen my picture on the wall in the Post Office. I get that a lot.Haha! No, I honestly suspect we met. But it’s hard to know for sure from a conversation here. 🙂

  19. Todd Dugdale says:

    Real ID was a piece of “feel good” legislation to make people think something was “being done”. It might be a good idea to get a passport before they get too hard to obtain, if you can afford it. I don’t travel outside the country, either, but it’s proof of identity, citizenship, and SSN in one document – and I haven’t seen my SS card since I was 18. It’s amazingly helpful when dealing with bureaucracy inside the country.If someone steals your identity, your DL isn’t as much proof as you might think it is.

  20. robert verdi says:

    This hardly seems onerous.

  21. Mr. Universe says:

    Wow, talk about a horse designed by committee. Are we really sure you exist at all? Maybe you really are a platypus.

  22. Monotreme says:

    @Robert:No more so than Universal Health Care. And, they followed the legislative process, rather than slipping it through using some sort of procedural trick.

  23. Mainer says:

    A horse designed by a committee where the committee wanted to pass off the cost of ownership to some one else. So hey we have a better identify system for the federal government to point to and say see what we did to make you safer and oh by the way you get to pick up all the costs.And it was such a good system that the same agency then turned around and made all of the people working in ports get a second national identity card (TWIC) that was issued by TSA and that they don’t even want to use at airports. And merchant marriners hav to have in many cases both a TWIC card a merchant marrner document and a state ID. Oh yeah that has worked so well. We should have gone with one national card and been done with it. Put the mag strip and chip in it and use it for every thing depending on what is programed into it. I carry 4 different picture ID’s and at one time had 6 all because of a lack of leadership in this country. Odd though even with 4 different ID’s the pictures all seem to show the same cranky old guy.

  24. Realist says:

    Of course we should have gone with a national ID card, but people have an irrational fear of them.Why is it irrational? Because the fear is that, if we have a national ID card, people will be required to carry them at all times. But that requirement is independent of having a national ID card. There’s no more stopping legislation requiring everyone carry a REAL ID at all times than there is of identical legislation involving a national ID.The ID is not the thing they should be scared of. They should fear the requirement.Instead, we have hundreds of reasons to embrace a national ID/driver’s license, and the number of reasons grows with every passing year.

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